If you were injured in the residential property you rent, the landlord or owner may be responsible to compensate you for some or all of your injuries and losses. How do you prove this, and what steps do you need to take before going to court?
Before you take any action, Chris Hudson Law Group suggests you contact an attorney. There are specific steps that must be taken before legal action can be filed, and an experienced premises liability attorney can help you through them.
Negligence and Notice
In Georgia, a landlord has a duty to provide a residence that is fit for human habitation. You should go through the residence with the landlord or the agent and check for any issues that need to be repaired before you move in. Once you have moved in, your responsibility is to keep the landlord advised of any changes to the property.
Your landlord is only responsible for damage and injuries for which they receive notice. If your stairwell has had a loose step for a month and you did not tell the landlord or property manager until after you fell through it and broke your ankle, you may have difficulty proving your case for negligence, since it’s possible the landlord was not aware of the problem.
The law considers that a landlord is responsible for issues for which they have reasonable opportunity to correct and repair. The first step in proving landlord responsibility is to show that you told the landlord about the problem before any injury took place.
How to Give Notice
If your lease requires that you contact the property manager for any repairs or issues with your rental property, then you should do so. When making a request for any repair, or reporting any accident, you should always do so in writing. This gives you and your attorney a record of what you said, when you said it, and to whom you spoke.
If the issue has caused an injury, you need to let the landlord know right away. Suppose you fell through the stairs and broke your ankle. If the accident was due to the step being broken, you need to let the landlord know so that an insurance claim can be started. The procedure is like filing a claim for a motor vehicle accident. You should also consider talking to an attorney right away.
What You Need for Proof
In proving negligence leading to an accident, you, the plaintiff, must prove that the landlord didn’t provide the conditions on the property that were described by the lease. You’ll need to prove that they knew or should have known that there was a problem with the property, but that they did nothing to mend the issue.
Then you’ll have to show that this issue was the actual cause of your injury. If the step had been broken for a long time, but you fell because you’d been out drinking the night you fell through it, the landlord can reasonably claim you fell not because of the step but because you were drunk.
You’ll also have to prove that you suffered an injury because of the issue with the property. If you broke your ankle falling through the stairs, you have a claim. If you broke it at the gym, you do not.
Another critical part of pursuing compensation is showing that you suffered actual losses as a result of your injuries. Slipping and falling and spraining an ankle that you did not seek medical treatment for and that didn’t keep you off work likely would not produce a compensable claim. An ankle fracture, on the other hand, that you had to get medical treatment for, probably would.
The most critical part of proving your landlord’s liability and getting them to pay for the accident is showing that they knew or should have known of the hazard that caused the accident. This is where you should consider contacting an attorney.
Records that show you notified the landlord of the hazard repeatedly tend to prove that they knew and did nothing. Witness statements that indicate others knew of the hazard and also reported it are important. You and your attorney will determine what the landlord knew and when it was known prior to your accident in order to make the best case for you.
Before going further and filing a lawsuit, you should have your case reviewed by an attorney. At Chris Hudson Law Group, we can advise you about the complexities of landlord-tenant law and explain what needs to be done before suing your landlord for an accident.
Call us today at (706) 863-6600 for a consultation on your case.